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Katie Berman and her textile adventures.

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A growing collection of Katie Berman’s musings including collaborations, thoughts about textiles, tutorials and more.

Filtering by Tag: interior design

5 DESIGN TIPS FOR BUSTING YOUR STASH

Katie Berman

Designing Within Limits While Busting Your Stash

My latest stash busting creation.

My latest stash busting creation.

When I started teaching my Intro to Macrame class, my students always ended up with little bits of excess rope and trimmings when they completed their pieces. Working in the textile industry, I’m very aware of the waste that comes from textile production. In my efforts to not contribute to that waste, I would bag up the rope bits and take them home with me. I couldn’t throw them away or give up on them! I kept them in a bag on my shelf that just kept growing and growing. In fact, I now have a whole shelf in my studio dedicated to excess bits from past projects and classes. 

Now, before I hear some of you start whispering words like “hoarder”, I know that I’m not alone! I know you’re out there and have your own little-bits-of-rope shelf. You know that shelf. The place where material bits that are too big to trash and too small to really make a full project out of live. Those materials may not be sitting in the landfill (hooray!), but they’re still just taking up space in your home and that’s no good either. 

This year, I’ve been working on busting through my stash and reducing the amount of new materials I purchase for projects. This de-stashing includes those little bits from my shelf. I’m happy to share that I’ve finally started going through significant portions of my stash and, oh buddy, does that half empty shelf look goooood! 

Through this process, I learned a few design tips and methods to think through as I stash bust and I thought I would share those tips with you. Designing and creating with things in your stash can get a bit challenging, but not to worry. With a little open-mindedness and out of the box thinking, you can do this! 

So, my wanna-be stash busters, it’s time to pull out those materials that you’ve been saving and make them into something beautiful! Here are my tips for designing within limits so that you can bust that stash.


Design Tip #1: Konmari Your Materials

I’m sure you know who Marie Kondo is. Her method of organizing and “sparking joy” is so popular now that we use her name as a verb! If you’ve read her book or seen her show, you know that her first step in organizing is pulling out all of the items that you’re looking to de-stash and pile them up in the same room together. 

And that’s our first step in stash busting. Pull out all of the yarns, fabrics, bedazzle gems, beads, what have you, and pile them all up in the same place. You can’t bust through your stash if you don’t know the breadth of what you have. Marvel at your pile and then get ready to start planning your next masterpiece!

This is all from the same rope source. This can be unwound and made into softer groups of cotton. The small shredded bits are leftover trim from my tassels that can be used as stuffing!

This is all from the same rope source. This can be unwound and made into softer groups of cotton. The small shredded bits are leftover trim from my tassels that can be used as stuffing!

Design Tip #2: The Materials Are Not What They Seem

Much of this process is thinking creatively and pushing the limits of the materials that you have. When looking at your pile, start to think about all of the ways it could be used or transformed. 

Got a crap ton of yarn in your pile. Psh, that’s not just yarn! That can be shredded into stuffing for small toys. Or made into little pom pom decorations for your next shindig. Or used as swatching yarn for knit or crochet patterns you’ve always wanted to try (like my Cable Collection project I’m working on). 

This macrame wall hanging I created was made only from excess rope. Some of it did stay in its original rope form, but some of it I shredded up to make those awesome fringe tassels. 


Secret, secret. I’ve got a secret!

Secret, secret. I’ve got a secret!


Design Tip #3: Designate Materials As Star Roles or Supporting Roles

Not all materials need to be at the forefront of your design. Over time our tastes might change or our color palettes have shifted. Materials that take up space in my stash are those that are colors that I can’t seem to work into my current color palette. 

For those materials, I’ve started to use them as fillers-- or supporting roles, if you will-- behind my star role elements. See those tassels. You know what’s behind them? Weird yarn from my stash! To give differing heights in my tassels, I used fillers in between the rows so as not to use up my limited supply of rope. Does the yarn color coordinate with my neutral vibe in this wall hanging? Who cares! You can’t see them! And you’d never know they were there if I hadn’t told you… This opens up a whole new world for stash busting. 

Design Tip #4: Embrace the Unusual

Remember Tip #2 about thinking creatively and pushing the limits with your materials? This applies to your design elements too. Don’t be afraid to embrace the unusual and get weird. For me, that’s embracing patchworking. In order to make some serious strides in busting my stash, I’ve had to learn to patchwork and graft materials together. It feels strange in the moment, but exploring new patchwork methods has broadened my creative scope and tastes.  

 

Design Tip #5: Think on Your Feet

There may come a time where you overestimate the amount of materials you have dedicated for your chosen project and you run out. 

Firstly-- well done! You’re busting through your stash like a boss!

Now it’s time to think on your feet! Incorporate them into something else or graft more materials in. I overestimated how much soft rope I had for shredding into tassels. When I ran out, I changed directions and grafted those tassels into a larger work with a different rope I had left in my stash. The end result was still within my design aesthetic, but just came about in a way I didn’t expect. 



Well friends, those are my tips for designing within limits. 
Are you ready to bust into your stash, keep things out of the landfill and broaden your creative scope?
I think so. Let’s do it! 

Have your own tips on stash busting? Share yours below!





ON TRYING AGAIN

Katie Berman

My friends, it’s been one of those weeks. I feel like I’m in a creative slump and everywhere I turn I keep hitting a wall. This happens every time I finish a body of work. I’m on a roll, cooking up designs left and right and feeling good about by choices. And when I complete a collection and I shift gears to begin something new, I can’t seem to get it right. The ideas and visions that look amazing in my dreams don’t seem to measure up when the morning comes.

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I’ve spent most of this week ripping out stitches which has led me to meditate a lot on starting over. On trying again. On not giving up.

One of things that I love most about punch needle is that it can be, at times, quite forgiving. To be honest, I think that’s what drew me to textiles in the first place so many years ago. I originally planned on studying graphic design, but quickly changed my tune within my first semester of university. The forgiveness I experience in textiles is different than that of digital design. Sure, graphic design is extremely forgiving (praise the good Lord for Ctrl+Z….) but almost too forgiving. There’s no sense of permanency with my graphic design work. But with textiles, it’s different. I take things that are existing and somewhat more permanent and I shape them into something else. And the fact that I can take that solid material and morph it and change my mind and morph it again… and again… aaaand maybe just one more time is a fascinating concept to me.

In graphic design, my process can be erased completely— never to be thought of again. In textiles, there can still exist shadows of the journey. Memory of the path that led me to my final work.

My textile practice is a tangible, real-time experience of maturing. And not maturing from gathering a wealth of knowledge and fact. But a maturing grown through grace and forgiveness and hope. This textile practice teaches me forgiveness. It teaches me the inevitability of change. It teaches me patience even in the times when I just want the work. to. be. done. already. It teaches me gentleness with myself and my thoughts. It’s okay to have a not super great first idea. It’s okay to change it. It’s okay to try again.

Today I was struck by the beauty in the ghost of my original idea. The foundation cloth has such a great way of showing you the constellations of what it held. The beauty is that I can still use this piece of material and punch new ideas into it. The materials were not wasted. The original idea was not wasted. It was not a reflection of utter failure. It was just a first step and I needed to change directions.

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I’m not sure how many times I’ll have to go through this ripping out process before my new collection takes shape, but I’m learning to live with it. For those out there in a creative rut— your time in the slump is not wasted. We’re all gonna make it out and have new work to share with the world soon. I promise. And until then, I’m here for ya. If you need a cheerleader to tell you how awesome you are, come chat with your friend Katie.

To new things on the horizon.
- KB

LAYERS OF DIGNITY BENEFIT SHOW

Katie Berman

To Find a Quiet Place  Wool and cotton, 23in x 11in

To Find a Quiet Place
Wool and cotton, 23in x 11in

This year I’ve made it a goal to invest more time in creating fine art work. It’s crazy to think that it’s been almost 7 years since I submitted work into a gallery show. After graduating art school and in the throes of trying to figure out how to merge my art with a sustainable income, I immersed myself in trying to create a retail line and fit into the handmade maker/market community. I spent the next few years hauling my wares to local markets, trying to figure out a world I didn’t know and in the end didn’t fit into. Though I was having a blast getting to know folks in the community and talking to people about my process, my business was ultimately failing. The work I was producing was not what the local, handmade consumer wanted.

To Find a Quiet Place  in progress.

To Find a Quiet Place in progress.

But what did I want? I wanted to create functional art— heavy on the art part. So I closed the business and spent a year reflecting, researching and opening myself up to creating fine art once again. I wanted to return to creating from deep places with broad, organic, gestural, abstract strokes. To make for the sake of making.

Art serves a purpose. It’s necessary. And that’s something I didn’t quite believe once I left school. Who would ever want my art?

So this year, I’m saying yes. Yes to gallery shows. Yes to putting my self out there. Yes to putting my work out there. Yes to being open minded about future businesses and endeavors. Yes.

I’ve said yes to not one, but two(!), shows so far this year— one that I’m helping to curate! And it’s only April. Who knows what the rest of the year may hold.

The work pictured at the top of this post is a piece I submitted to my first show this year. It was donated to a benefit show for Layers of Dignity. Created by two nurses, the gals at Layers of Dignity strive to support and clothe the sexually assaulted in our local community— layering them in their dignity. What an honor it was to donate a piece to their show. And, along with all of the other amazing submissions, it sold! They raised over $2,000 in art sales through our show. I don’t know where my works’ forever home is, but I’m so thankful.